A Halloween special, it was the third Peanuts special (and second holiday-themed special, following A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez. Its initial broadcast took place on October 27, 1966, on CBS, preempting My Three Sons. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001, where it now airs annually at Halloween. ABC once broadcast You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown immediately following It's the Great Pumpkin, as if to emphasize the proximity of Halloween to Election Day. Also, the Great Pumpkin is mentioned in You're Not Elected.
The program was nominated for an Emmy Award. It has been issued on home video several times, including a Remastered Deluxe Edition of the special released by Warner Home Videoon September 2, 2008, with the bonus feature It's Magic, Charlie Brown which was released in 1981. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, a retrospective book was published in 2006. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic includes the entire script, never-before-seen photographs, storyboard excerpts, and interviews with the original child actors who provided the voices of the Peanuts gang.
- 2 Voice actors
- 3 Viewer response
- 4 Production
- 5 Home video releases
- 6 References
- 7 External links
With autumn already in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. Linus van Pelt writes his annual letter to The Great Pumpkin, despite Charlie Brown's disbelief, Snoopy's laughter, Patty's assurance that the Great Pumpkin is a fake, and even his own sister Lucy's violent threat to make her brother stop. When Linus goes out to mail the letter but cannot reach the mailbox, Lucy refuses to help him; so he uses his blanket to open the box, and throws in the letter.
On Halloween night, the gang (including Charlie Brown's younger sister Sally) goes trick-or-treating. On the way, they stop at the pumpkin patch to ridicule Linus' missing the festivities, just as he did last year. Undeterred, Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will come, and even persuades Sally to remain with him to wait.
During trick-or-treating, the kids receive assorted candy, apples, gum, cookies, money, and popcorn balls — except for Charlie Brown, who for some reason is given a rock from every house they visit, possibly due to the ridiculous amount of holes in his ghost costume. After trick-or-treating and another visit to the pumpkin patch, the gang goes to Violet's Halloween party. Meanwhile, Snoopy, wearing his World War I flying ace costume, climbs aboard his doghouse (imagining it to be a Sopwith Camel fighter plane) to fight with the Red Baron. After a fierce but losing battle, Snoopy makes his way across "the countryside" to briefly crash the Halloween party, where he is entertained by Schroeder's playing of World War I tunes on his piano, and then goes to the pumpkin patch. When Linus sees a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch, he believes the Great Pumpkin has arrived, and faints. When Sally sees that it is only Snoopy, she angrily scolds Linus for making her miss the trick-or-treating activities as well as the Halloween party festivities as the kids come to take her away with them. As they leave, and still convinced that the Great Pumpkin will materialize, Linus promises to put in a good word for them.
At 4:00 AM the next morning, Lucy awakens and notices that Linus is not in his bed. She finds her brother asleep in the pumpkin patch, shivering. She brings him home, takes off his shoes, and puts him to bed. Later, Charlie Brown and Linus are at a rock wall, commiserating about the previous night's disappointments. Although Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend, admitting that he himself has done stupid things in his life also, Linus angrily vows to him that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year.
- Christopher Shea as Linus van Pelt
- Peter Robbins as Charlie Brown
- Gail DeFaria as "Pig-Pen"
- Sally Dryer as Lucy van Pelt
- Glenn Mendelson as Schroeder/Shermy
- Kathy Steinberg as Sally Brown
- Ann Altieri as Violet/Frieda
- Lisa DeFaria as Patty
- Bill Melendez as Snoopy
Charlie Brown's repeated line of "I got a rock" caused some stir among many viewers of the show, according to Charles Schulz in the book and retrospective TV special "Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown." Schulz said that after the program first aired, bags and boxes of candy came in from all over the world "just for Charlie Brown."
During the 1980s and 1990s, when the special aired on CBS, the network trimmed the "trick-or-treat" sequence, such that after the Peanuts gang knock on the first door and say "trick-or-treat," it cuts to the gang after they finished trick-or-treating comparing what they got at the last house.
To make room for the longer commercial breaks during modern airings, ABC cut two scenes, which were later restored when aired in conjunction with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown:
- Lucy pleading Charlie Brown to kick the football, and subsequently pulling it away as he tries to do so, a staple in the comic strips since 1952.
- Snoopy (as the World War I flying ace) prompting Schroeder to play World War I era songs.
The music was performed by the Vince Guaraldi Sextet. The lively instrumental, "Linus and Lucy", associated originally with A Charlie Brown Christmas, is used at the beginning of this cartoon as Linus and Lucy prepare a pumpkin to be a jack-o-lantern, as Linus mails his letter to The Great Pumpkin, and when Lucy wakes up at 4 AM to take Linus home from the pumpkin patch. Guaraldi's theme for the special, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," plays throughout, as when Linus is writing the Great Pumpkin towards the beginning.
The World War I songs played by Schroeder on his toy piano while Snoopy dances are:
- The "Happy" Songs:
- The "Sad" Songs:
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released on VHS by Kartes Video Communications and Hi-Tops Video as part of its Snoopy's Home Video Library. This version included the CBS edit of the "trick-or-treat" scene and removed the entire sequence of Schroeder playing World War I-era songs. Paramount later released the special on VHS in the '90s. It was later released on DVD on September 12, 2000 with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a bonus special.
After Warner Brothers obtained the off-air rights to the Charlie Brown library of TV specials, they released a new DVD release under the new "Remastered Deluxe Edition" line on September 2, 2008. On this DVD, the bonus special wasIt's Magic, Charlie Brown (You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown was released on its own DVD later that year), and it included a new featurette, "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown". A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on September 7, 2011 with the same features as the Warner DVD.